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Before Edward took up with American socialite Wallis Simpson, before he gave up the crown and eschewed his duties as the King of England, the young prince was involved in an even more scandalous relationship.

A antsy and angsty Prince is assigned to duty in France during WWI.  Seeing as he was poised to take the throne, his assignments were non-hazardous.  A bored Edward spent numerous “leaves” galavanting about Paris.  One of his favorite pastimes was Marguerite Meller, a high-price Parisian courtesan.

Portrait of Meller
Portrait of Meller

The two carried on an 18-month relationship, through the end of the war, when Paris really learned how to party.  But the two fizzled out as the Prince was expected to fulfill more and more official duties, and Meller searched even more exotic quarry.  She found it in Ali Fahmy Bey, an Egyptian noble.  She could have found herself well set-up for the rest of her days — but they two developed a tumultuous, violent relationship.  Desperate to escape the confines of her adopted Muslim faith, she convinced Fahmy bey to visit London.  While staying at the Savoy, Meller shot and killed her husband.

A sensation trial began.  Their violent past was hardly a secret.  Was the killing in self-defense as she claimed?  Or did she simply seize an opportunity to free herself from an over-bearing man?

Meller was originally excited by catching Fahmy, a “curious thrill”, she wrote.  And this was no small-town romance.

This hotel de luxe, which stood in the avenue Kleber a few metres from the Arc de Triomphe, vied in ‘its splendors, comforts and cuisine’ with the Ritz.  The headquarters of the British delegation at the Versaille Peace Conference, the hotel was soon ‘restored to its usual guests who whom display, luxury, and wonderful ladies have never seemed scandalous’.  There, on 18 May 1922, and in a private salon, Proust, Joyce, Picasso, Stravinsky, and Diaghilev gathered for supper, the only time that these emblematic figures of the Modernist movement were together in one room.  ~ Pg. 86

Author Andrew Rose is a retired London barrister and judge.  Fascinated by this story, he dug up previously unpublished documents and private letters – he discovered proof of a royal cover-up.

A very young Prince Edward, in his uniform.
A very young Prince Edward, in his uniform.

Rose’s legal background means that the book can sometimes be dry as he goes methodically through the sequence of events.  However, there are plenty of juicy episodes  as well.

Anyone with an affinity for royal gossip, true crime and the Roaring 20s should check out this book.

Many thanks to Andrea with Picador for the review copy.
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Picador
May 2013
Hardcover
ISBN: 9781250040695
ISBN10: 1250040698
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 352 pages
Includes one 8-page black-and-white photograph insert

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